Getting an advertisement through an e-mail, text message, or computerized telephone call may seem like a simple annoyance. You may quickly hit delete and move on. But your cell phone service or internet provider may be charging you for delivery of those ads. Rather than investing their own advertising dollars, these companies are pushing their costs onto some consumers. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act, these practices may be illegal.
Companies have been known to collect cell phone numbers after you place an order or make an initial purchase, then turn your information over to a third-party marketing company that sends “text blasts” advertising or promoting other goods and services. Sending mass text messages is illegal unless the owner of the number gave prior express consent to receive text messages or automated telephone calls.
Many consumers do not know that they have the right to stop unwanted advertisements from flooding their phone and e-mail inbox. Taking legal action can help to prevent this abusive practice as well as compensate you for your losses. The statutory fine for unsolicited texts is $500. Even a single text can support a TCPA claim. Consumers who have pursued legal action to stop illegal spamming have had success in Minnesota and nationwide.
For companies held liable under federal or state SPAM laws, the costs can be significant. Here are some examples of damages and lawsuits involving illegal e-mail and text spamming:
- Simon & Schuster: $10 million settlement / $175 per phone number. The lawsuit alleged that 60,000 users received unwanted texts. A successful resolution was reached to compensate class members.
- Rolling Stone Magazine: $5 million settlement. Affiliated media companies distributed SMS campaigns offering vouchers and magazine subscriptions. A plaintiff filed a claim under the TCPA and the parties eventually came to resolution.
- Burger King: $250 per phone number. A class action settled between the representative plaintiff and Burger King after the company hired a third-party to distribute a spam text advertising campaign.
- Timberland Company: $7 million settlement / $150 per phone number. The Timberland Company was sued in a class action for the illegal transmission of SMS spam to consumer cell phones nationwide.
- Papa John’s Pizza: $16 million settlement. The company agreed to the settlement after it was sued in a $250 million class action for illegally inundating consumers with unwanted text messages.
- Twentieth Century Fox: $16 million / $200 per phone number. The media mogul reached a settlement in a class action after it sent SMS SPAM advertising following the DVD release of the film, “Robots.” All members of the class were eligible to receive up to $200.
If you are tired of getting unwanted telephone, text message or e-mail ads, remember that many of these practices are illegal and give rise to a cause of action and financial compensation. The consumer protection attorneys at Wanta Thome PLC are experienced in litigating and settling these unwanted text messages cases. We are currently investigating cases involving unsolicited text messages and e-mails. For more information about your rights under Minnesota and federal consumer protection laws, please call 612-252-3570 for a private consultation.